[ID] => 8380
[post_author] => 34
[post_date] => 2017-08-22 16:34:41
[post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-22 15:34:41
[post_content] => For those in the UK, the one opportunity that dangerous goods professionals get to sit down with senior regulators and hear about recent and upcoming changes to the rules is provided by the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA), which is also the UK’s body responsible for packaging certification. VCA’s annual Dangerous Goods Seminar, which this year was held on 14 and 15 June in Daventry, attracted a healthy and interested crowd, and not just from the UK. Alongside some visitors from Ireland and one regular attendee from Israel, there were a number of others who had come from further afield.
This year’s 32nd annual seminar, chaired once again by HCB’s editor-in-chief Peter Mackay, came at a time of economic and political uncertainty and also followed on from a number of personnel changes among the UK’s regulatory policy staff. There were also plenty of new faces among the audience – around 40 per cent were first-timers at the seminar, which one the one hand reflects VCA’s excellent work in attracting new attendees but also suggests there is a lot of turnover among dangerous goods professionals within UK-based shippers and carriers.
The same is true at the Department for Transport (DfT). First to the podium was Roh Hathlia, who joined DfT in 2015 to replace Jeff Hart as Head of the Dangerous Goods Division and who had something of a baptism of fire at the 2016 VCA seminar. He outlined DfT’s main objectives as regards the transport of dangerous goods, which are to facilitate safety, security and sustainability in all operations. The UK’s approach to regulating the sector needs to be proportionate to the risk involved and also facilitate trade, he stressed.
These ambitions are not always easy, Hathlia said. Decisions are made by the UN Sub-committee of Experts on the transport of dangerous goods (TDG) on the basis of consensus and only in the event that no consensus can be reached will the 30 countries with voting rights be asked to cast a vote. The UK is just one of those, but will be bound by the decisions taken at the meeting. The UK delegation needs to think strategically but also act politically to get other signatories to line up with its views.
Hathlia had been invited to the seminar to report back on the work of the UN Sub-committee but, before getting down to the details, he had some interesting observations on the Sub-committee’s work. He has, he said, found that there is a real sense of community among the experts from around the world. However, they are burdened by too many proposals and, Hathlia felt, there is too much tinkering with the regulations. Worryingly, there is a loss of expertise among the experts as those who have been stalwarts of the Sub-committee for decades are now retiring; there is also pressure on resources, both within individual delegations and at the UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), which provides the secretariat for the Sub-committee as well as for most of the European regulatory bodies.
THE PAST TWO YEARS
The VCA seminar took place just prior to the first meeting of the 2017/18 regulatory biennium so Hathlia’s first task was to summarise the outcome of the 2015/16 biennium, during which the Sub-committee agreed the changes that were to appear in the 20th revised edition of the UN Model Regulations, published in mid-2017. The amendments contained in that document will mostly filter through into the international modal and regional/national regulations as from the start of 2019.
Hathlia highlighted the size of the task that was undertaken during the four sessions of the Sub-committee during 2015/16, which saw nearly 400 papers being tabled for discussion. There were, he said, three notably successes:
- Agreement on 12 new UN entries for dangerous goods in machinery, apparatus or articles, nos, for those articles containing dangerous goods in excess of the LQ limit, together with associated packing instructions
- Adoption of new text for Chapter 2.8 on corrosives, to align with the Globally Harmonised System of classification and labelling of chemicals (GHS), and
- Recognition of a global system for marking explosives for trace purposes.
The one major disappointment from the work over the biennium was the failure to agree on the requirements for the carriage of Category A clinical waste, but Hathlia was optimistic that this would be achieved during the July 2017 session. This issue relates to the need to find a way to handle large volumes of potentially infected material during major disease outbreaks, such as the Ebola virus scare of 2014/15, when it became clear that the current regulations do not fit the needs of hospitals.
In addition, a number of new special provisions were agreed:
- SP 388 for vehicles powered by flammable liquid or gas internal combustion engines or fuel cells
- SP 392, which provides an exemption from the provisions of 184.108.40.206 and Chapter 6.2 for fuel gas containment systems, and
- SP 389 to expand on the new UN 3536 entry for lithium batteries installed in cargo transport units.
A number of new packing instructions were adopted, mostly relating to lithium cells and batteries. However, Hathlia said, “there’s a whole lot more”, pointing delegates to the UN ECE website for the full list of adopted amendments.
THE YEARS AHEAD
Although work had not yet started on the 21st revised edition of the UN Model Regulations, some of the likely changes had already been flagged up, not least in terms of the work that had had to be held over from the 2015/16 biennium. Hathlia had already mentioned the issue of Category A clinical waste but he also highlighted some of the other topics that will be discussed. These include:
- An evaluation of the global and regulation impact of the UN Model Regulation
- Development of a comprehensive risk-based system for the classification of lithium batteries and cells for transport
- More work on polymerising substances
- The transport of gases, particularly relating to the global recognition of UN and non-UN pressure receptacles, and
- Several issues related to explosive materials.
Hathlia reminded delegates that DfT holding briefing meetings for stakeholders prior to each of the four sessions planned for the 2017/18 biennium and that anyone can look at the papers ahead of those meetings. Those among the audience who were not already on DfT’s mailing list were urged to sign up, so they get early notification of those meetings.
Hathlia admitted that DfT has not been paying enough attention to what is happening within UK industry and it is now putting more resources onto the domestic agenda, as opposed to concentrating on UN work. That should not indicate that the UK will become more isolated from the international community but, he said, there needs to be a better link between domestic issues and what the UK does at the UN level.
In addition, there has been a review of how the various agencies involved – not just DfT but also the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and the police – carry out their responsibilities as competent authorities under ADR. Hathlia also mentioned that DfT is looking at how to improve compliance among those companies that do not engage with the Department and do not turn out for the VCA seminar.
RULES IN PRACTICE
Hathlia had mentioned the adoption of the new UN entries on dangerous goods in articles, which was based on work carried out by the UK. John Mairs, deputy head of DfT’s Dangerous Goods Division, gave some more information on the changes and the reasoning behind them.
First off, Mairs defined the articles in question and the particular hazards they present in transport. In terms of the new entries, ‘article’ means machinery, apparatus or other device that contains one or more dangerous goods (or residues thereof) that are integral to the article, necessary for its functioning and unable to be removed. The UN entries that have been adopted do not cover articles containing dangerous goods of classes 1, 7 or 6.2, nor articles for which a proper shipping already exists. Also out of scope are articles what have the sole purpose of containing dangerous goods, such as fuel tanks.
Articles are, generally speaking, safer than the substances they contain, since they are often mass-produced under a quality management system and often have to pass consumer product tests to show that they are safe for use. In addition, the dangerous goods they contain are safely encapsulated and should not be capable of leaking. One result of that is that producers of such articles are often unaware that the dangerous goods transport regulations should apply or, if they are, the articles may be mis-declared as UN 3363 dangerous goods in apparatus.
One problem that the new entries was designed to solve was the increasing number of new bespoke UN entries for new types of article – Mairs mentioned such items as asymmetric capacitors, neutron detectors and confetti shooters. In addition, competent authority approval has generally been required for articles containing dangerous goods in quantities that exceed the limited quantity values or for which no lithium quantity value exists. This is time consuming, both for industry and the competent authorities, and is unpredictable.
Mairs explained something of the process that the UK’s proposals went through at the UN Sub-committee level and the points of contention that arose. There was concern, for example, that the proposals allowed for articles containing dangerous goods with properties that could exacerbate and incident and some experts felt these should be treated more cautiously. These complications went back and forth right up to the December 2016 session, where proposals to exempt articles containing dangerous goods in quantities below the excepted quantity threshold had to be abandoned. In addition, competent authority approval will still be required for the packaging of articles containing dangerous goods that might exacerbate an incident (such as oxidisers) and for the packaging of articles containing more than one dangerous goods of particular concern (such as self-reactive substances).
In the end, 12 new UN entries were adopted, along with a new special provision detailing when competent authority approval of the packaging is required. A new packing instruction applicable to articles was adopted, based on packing group II standards, and a new large packing instruction was also adopted. UN 3363 and SP 301 were retained for their specific applicability.
The next step will be to translate all this into the modal regulations. At present, RID/ADR/ADN do not use UN 3363 but include an exemption in 220.127.116.11(b) for articles containing dangerous goods. These are not regulated so long as measures have been taken to prevent the leakage of their contents under normal conditions of carriage. There is no mention of the quantity of dangerous goods allowed nor of the potential for reaction between two or more dangerous goods.
It is likely that the joint RID/ADR/ADN meeting will agree a transitional provision to allow 18.104.22.168(b) to be used for at least two years beyond the normal entry into force of the new UN entries, which will be assigned to Transport Category 4 and Tunnel Code E. The provisions of 22.214.171.124 will still apply, meaning that a sub-set of the regulations will apply to the land transport of articles containing dangerous goods. Labels will still need to be applied and transport documents will need to be completed.
The new UN entries for articles containing dangerous goods will be adopted into the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code and into the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) Technical Instructions, although there is a question over the position of articles containing lithium batteries in the air mode.
Mairs explained that this is not the end of it. The use of the new UN entries will be monitored and the requirements for competent authority approval will be reviewed as confidence grows in the new packing instructions.
NOW IN FORCE
So far all the talk had been about future regulations but delegates were also keen to hear about the rule changes that had taken effect at the start of 2017 – or, for ADR and RID were just about to. These were based primarily on the amendments included in the 19th revised edition of the UN Model Regulations, adopted at the end of 2014. Darren Freezor, who heads the international work programme at DfT’s Dangerous Goods Division, was given the unenviable task of running through all these in a one-hour presentation.
Freezor began by running through some of the major changes that are common to all modes. These include:
- Changing ‘marking’ to ‘mark’ throughout the regulations
- The addition of new viscosity criteria for flammable liquids
- New UN entries (3531 to 3534) for polymerising substances, covered under the definition and general provisions for Division 4.1
- Changes to the classification of UN 2977, 2978 and 3507 uranium hexafluoride, including the recognition of a Division 6.1 hazard
- A new UN 3527 for polyester resin kits with solid base material, with the existing UN 3269 now applicable only to those with a liquid base material
- Changes to the cylinder requirements in packing instruction P200
- A new label for lithium batteries, based on the existing Class 9 label but with the addition of a specific pictogram in the lower half
- A new packing instruction P910 relating to pre-production prototypes and short-run production volumes of lithium cells and batteries, and
- Rationalisation of the provisions for the transport of engines and machinery, including new UN entries 3528 to 3530.
In terms of the last point, Freezor also provided a useful table of the various special provisions applicable to UN 3171, 3166 and the new entries under RID/ADR, the IMDG Code and the ICAO Technical Instructions.
For the surface transport modes, there are several other important changes, which were about to enter into force on 1 July. There are some small changes to the Instructions in Writing under ADR, which will require all carriers to update the documents that are in the cabs of their vehicles. More significantly, perhaps, the requirement to have a dangerous goods safety advisor (DGSA) will be extended to cover consignors, but not until 2019 and with a transitional period to the end of 2022. The RID/ADR/ADN experts have also introduced the possibility of using electronic examinations for DGSAs. The 2017 texts of RID and ADR also include amendments to the welding and inspection requirements in Chapter 6.8.
For ADR only, the changes include:
- Amendments to Chapter 6.8 setting out minimum performance levels for the hydraulic pressure test.
- Permission for the use of LNG, LPG and CNG as fuel for vehicles carrying dangerous goods, with some specification on fuel tank size limits, new definitions and specific vehicle requirements
- Deletion of ‘OX’ vehicles, and
- Various amendments to Chapter 9 covering electrical systems, braking equipment, fuel tanks and cylinders, and the prevention of fire risks.
Freezor also gave some indication of the major changes now in effect for the international air and sea regulations, though those who need to comply with the IMDG Code have until 1 January 2018 before the changes are mandatory. ICAO has included new restrictions on chemically unstable substances of classes/divisions 2.2, 3, 6.1 and 8, he said – a new special provision A209 refers. Lithium ion batteries of UN 3480 are now forbidden on passenger aircraft, though there are no changes to UN 3481 batteries. Two new specific special provisions apply to sterilisation devices containing UN 1067 nitrogen dioxide, UN 1660 nitric oxide (both A211) and UN 2031 nitric acid (A212), which are allowed on passenger aircraft without approval, subject to certain conditions.
FROM THE SEASIDE
As to the IMDG Code, Freezor mentioned the updating of Chapter 1.3 to reflect the new Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTUs). A new introductory note to Chapter 7.1 clarifies that cargo holds cannot be interpreted as being closed cargo transport units. There are the usual numerous changes to the Dangerous Goods List to reflect updates to packing provisions, marine pollutant status, special provisions and the stowage and segregation assignments. There is also a change to the segregation table to require more stringent segregation of Division 4.3 substances which, in contact with water, emit flammable gases.
Also on the agenda at the VCA seminar was Helen North, who has moved over from DfT’s Dangerous Goods Division to the post hazardous cargoes specialist at the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA), effectively taking over from Keith Bradley. Rather than present delegates with a fuller update on the IMDG Code, North gave them her impressions of the MCA and its work.
The main challenge facing MCA, she said, is in terms of resourcing, both in terms of policy staff and front-line employees. Those resources are limited and, bearing in mind MCA’s objective to promote maritime safety (as well as encouraging economic growth and minimising the maritime sector’s environmental impact), those resources will be deployed primarily where there are significant safety issues. For the UK, as for many maritime states, the most significant safety issues are found in the fishing industry, so the resources to be applied to the dangerous goods chain – such as the inspection of containers – are very limited.
The number one priority of MCA at present is to tackle the challenges of recruitment and build up its capabilities, including the oversight of dangerous goods movements by sea. In the meantime, North said, industry can help by letting MCA know of issues and problems that arise in the dangerous goods supply chain.
MCA, like many agencies around the world, is also facing a loss of expertise, as Hathlia had already mentioned. And while newly engaged staff can be trained and given the knowledge they need, it will take time to build up the experience that helps put all that knowledge into practical terms. MCA is also therefore increasing its level of engagement with stakeholders along the supply chain and with other government agencies.
The first day of the VCA seminar ended with a drinks reception and buffet very kindly sponsored by Air Sea Containers and Labeline. The second part of this report in next month’s HCB will look in more detail at some of the presentations from the second day, particularly those relating to enforcement, as well as lithium batteries.
[post_title] => VCA: Sent to Daventry
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[post_name] => 8380-2
[post_modified] => 2017-08-22 16:35:08
[post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-22 15:35:08
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